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Norway's King Harald, Europe's oldest monarch, is back at work after pacemaker implants

Norway's King Harald on his way to lunch with the Norwegian government in Oslo, Norway, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024. (Cornelius Poppe/NTB Scanpix via AP) Norway's King Harald on his way to lunch with the Norwegian government in Oslo, Norway, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024. (Cornelius Poppe/NTB Scanpix via AP)
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark -

Europe’s oldest monarch, King Harald V of Norway, returned to work Monday after a long sick leave following two surgeries to implant pacemakers, as the royal household said he would scale back his official activities from now on.

The first scheduled task for Harald, 87, is to receive Norwegian military officers at the royal palace in Oslo, according to the Norwegian royal calendar.

“The king will make adjustments to his program in the future, due to his age. This will entail a permanent reduction in the number and scope of activities in which the king participates,” the royal household said in a statement. “Practical arrangements will also be made in the implementation of his official activity.”

Harald repeatedly has said he has no plans to abdicate, unlike his second cousin Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who stepped down earlier this year.

Harald fell ill in late February during a private holiday with his wife, Queen Sonja, on the Malaysian resort island of Langkawi. He received a temporary pacemaker there due to a low heart rate on March 2.

Harald returned to Norway aboard a medical airplane and was immediately transferred to a hospital. He underwent a second surgery to receive a permanent pacemaker 10 days later at Oslo’s University Hospital.

At first, he was expected to be on sick leave for two weeks, but that was extended several times. During that time, his 50-year-old son, Crown Prince Haakan, has been assuming the king’s duties.

Harald’s duties as Norway’s head of state are ceremonial and he holds no political power. He ascended to the throne following the death of his father, King Olav, in 1991.

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